Is metal music art? From the perception of the French 19th-century Royal Academy of Art, it’s “no” by all means. But wait, isn’t it the institution that criticized impressionism? According to many bodies that controlled art in the past, only academic paintings were authentic artworks, and only classical music was the one worth listening to.
In the metamodernist era of 2021, metal is art beyond question. What’s more, it’s an influential genre which exists now for more than 50 years and has influenced not only many more recent genres but also had a huge impact on various fields of arts. Let’s see how!
1. Popular Music
There is an official genre such as pop-rock, but it’s nowhere you will find pop-metal. There is glam metal, but the sound of it is still far from what we consider popular music. Even though it sounds strange to combine the mainstream and its underground opposition, everything is possible in the day when some bands switch from playing black metal to avant-garde trip-hop and then, full throttle, and they now play synth-pop ballads (hi, Ulver).
But still, there is nowhere you’ll find a full-fledged pop-metal band. Yet, many popular artists who are not playing metal found their inspiration in metal and related genres. Take bands like Breathe Carolina, Attack Attack!, or Blood on the Dance Floor that combine pop, electronic, and even EDM with elements of post-hardcore and scream. Of course, such a combination makes orthodox metal fans cringe, but the fact it exists counts as evidence of influence.
Pop music, in its more traditional sense, was also impacted by metal. The genre’s aesthetics can be traced in pop artists’ style like Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Post Malone, and even Billie Eilish. Rappers, former sworn enemies of metal lovers, were spotted hanging out with metal stars and even making collabs with them, notably Gucci Mane feat. Marilyn Manson or Kid Bookie feat. Corey Taylor.
Did you know that the name of one of the most influential heavy metal bands, Black Sabbath, originated from a horror movie? The band was ultimately inspired by the title and tried to develop something similar, yet in the music field. According to critics and fan reception, they wildly succeeded.
After the genre's establishment, metal started to have an impact on the movie industry on its own. Metal songs were used as movie soundtracks (to some newbie surprise, not all were horror ones). For example, Guns N’ Roses’s track was used in Terminator 2, while Metallica’s in Mission: Impossible 2. But indeed, metal has always had a nice collab with horrors, so some movies where metal songs can be heard to name are Resident Evil and The Omen.
Japanese anime has also been heavily influenced by metal. Some anime lovers even suggest that anime creators are sort of obsessed with the genre. For example, they filmed the anime Detroit Metal City, which is completely revolving around metal, and some related titles like Legend of Black Heaven and K-On!. Moreover, many titles feature metal songs in their soundtracks, most famous: Death Note, Rainbow, and Deadman Wonderland.
The modern gaming industry is no less fan of blood and gore than horror movies. It’s also no less fan of suspense, darkness, and gothic elements. In other words, many video games could have a metal soundtrack, and nobody would smell a rat. Some of them do. Legendary DOOM combines the atmosphere metalheads will appreciate, plus a selected soundtrack with Pantera, Metallica, Judas Priest, and Slayer compositions.
Video games are not the only kind of games that were influenced by the phenomenon. Even more interesting is the relationship between metal music and gambling.
The first and obvious impact is that you will find metal-themed games among popular online slot machines. Guns N’ Roses, Motörhead, KISS, and Megadeth are just some bands immortalized by gaming providers in their games. Aside from that, you will find more general slots like Heavy Metal Warriors dedicated to the genre as a whole.
However, it’s not the most amusing link between gambling and metal. You might have heard many times how your favorite stars are hymning games of chance in their songs. Notably, Motörhead in their groundbreaking hit Ace of Spades, Megadeth in Train of Consequences, Aerosmith in their Deuces are Wild, and many more. Thus, we can claim that not only metal-inspired gambling providers, but also gambling itself inspired metal stars.
4. Fine Arts
And now, we are getting close to the highest form of art on our list. So how could metal inspire painters' or sculptors' new creations? Conventional critics will say it’s a genre that was mistaken for a material widely used in the aforementioned sculpture.
If anyone still doubts metal hasn’t influenced painting, we suggest they take a look at metal cover illustrations. These are usually complex outbursts of an artist’s dark fantasy, featuring characters, settings, and unique styling leading them to bring the finishing touch to the storytelling in the album’s lyrics.
Some painters and sculptors have no relation to metal album covers but create masterpieces that look like clear allusions to metal albums. The artworks of Zdzisław Beksiński or H.R. Giger could be cited as an example.
Overall, we observe globalization not only in culture but also in arts. Genres blend, fields of arts intertwine, and some combined experiences continue to emerge. For example, a metal concert today is a complex multidisciplinary performance consisting of music itself, fashion show, dramatic act, visual presentation, photography session, and even a mobile tattoo art salon working somewhere around the stage.
Will we soon hear metal songs at the embroidery festival or see gothic fashion incorporated in some official school uniform? Well, metamodernism made this not just possible but also normalized that.